Twelve from WEC Energy Group Receive MEA Awards for Helping People in Need

MEA Energy Association (MEA) is honored to present Jose Herrera, journeyman utility worker, and Don Jackson, operations apprentice, with WEC Energy Group – Peoples Gas, with Life Sustaining Awards. Both were nominated by Scott Alwin, senior communications specialist, of WEC Energy Group.

Herrera and Jackson, while on a routine gas leak detection call, prevented an almost certain tragedy when they rescued a man asleep in his still-running vehicle in a locked garage on Chicago’s northwest side. After using a handheld sniffer to rule out natural gas at a customer’s home, Herrera and Jackson determined the source of the odor was oil-based paint used in the basement earlier in the day. They requested access to the basement to double check. As the two made their way toward the exterior basement door, they noticed a vehicle running in the detached garage in the backyard.

The homeowner, a wheelchair bound woman, reported that it was her husband’s and she mentioned that she had been trying to contact him for several hours.  “We started pounding on the side door and the overhead door,” Herrera said. “We weren’t getting any response. I called dispatch to let them know what was going on. They sent the fire department.” Firefighters arrived a short time later, forced entry to the garage and rescued the woman’s husband, who was conscious but still groggy once out of the exhaust-filled garage.

Torrence Hinton, president of Peoples Gas, thanked the pair for their quick action in preventing a tragedy. “Jose and Don have reminded us to always take the time to check out situations that don’t look right. It can mean the difference between life and death.”

Ten other WEC Energy Group employees were recognized with Meritorious Service Awards. They are:

Minnesota Energy Resources (Gas)

  • Nolan McGowan, field technician II
    Field technician helps young girl in distress.

We Energies (Electric)

  • Jeb Loth, senior operations supervisor; Nic Streich, leading line mechanic (South); Jerimiah (JJ) Blosmore; Matthew (Matt) Mecikalski, line mechanic (South); Jonathan (Jon) Benish, line mechanic (South); James (Jim) Voith, line mechanic (South); Jacob (Jake) Grintjes, line mechanic (South); Quintin Bradford, line mechanic (South); Kurt Fredenberg, line crew leader (South)
    Returning We Energies crews help save a woman’s life.

“The people who receive these awards reflect what is good and noble in society,” said John Gann, membership sr. vice president of MEA.” Their actions are a testament to who these individuals are and to the training they receive as WEC Energy Group employees.”

MEA Life Sustaining Awards are presented to individuals from member companies who have saved the life of another. The Meritorious Service Award is granted to recognize those who have performed actions in the service of another that are considered above and beyond. Applications for the MEA Life Sustaining and Meritorious Service Award are reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of MEA’s Board of Directors. Read about all MEA awards at

For questions contact John Gann, johng (at) MEAenergy (dot) org, or (651) 289-9600 x105.

About MEA:

MEA serves the people that deliver electricity and natural gas to homes and businesses. We were founded as a trade association over 115 years ago by distribution utilities whose vision was to improve safety and efficiency. Today, we fulfill the same purpose through education, leadership development, and industry connections. Energy delivery companies, contractors, and suppliers around the country benefit from our 55 summits, roundtables, and webinars, 400+ online technical courses, safety assessments, evaluator training, operator qualification compliance tools, and leadership courses for field personnel.